"People don't know why they lose most of the time": Age of Empires 2 Red Bull Wololo winner TaToH discusses newcomer hurdles, tournament challenges, and more
This past weekend, Roberto “TaToH,” representing GamerLegion, claimed first place in Red Bull Wololo VI: Legacy for Age of Empires 2. In an incredible battle with Ørjan "TheViper," TaToH came out on top with a $200,000 prize pool. He battled to defeat some of the best AoE 2 players in the world.
In a recent interaction with Jason Parker, TaToH discussed the Red Bull Wololo event, the problems new players face, and what this event did to increase the popularity of the Age of Empires’ competitive scene.
At Castle Heidelberg in Germany, Red Bull Wololo was hosted by Riley “RLYKNGHT,” with thousands of fans watching on Twitch and YouTube.
TaToH dives into his experience at the Red Bull Wololo VI for Age of Empires 2
Q. First, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. What was your experience like taking part in the Red Bull Wololo?
TaToH: This year, with a two-week bootcamp, I wanted to make it farther than last year. In the group stage, I beat Kai "Liereyy" Kallinger 2-0, which was already an upset. I thought, “well, it seems like we’re prepared for this.” The whole experience has been excellent. We have had some time to prepare, such as for the semi-finals, where Dmitriy "Vinchester" Smirnov helped me a lot.
Q. You played against some of the best players that Age of Empires competitive offers. Who would you say was the most challenging player to deal with?
TaToH: Liereyy, for sure. He has a super aggressive style, so it’s tough to come back when he gets an advantage because he doesn’t make too many mistakes. He’s adamant about beating the opponent. Also, Ørjan "TheViper" Larsen, but I didn’t have to face him. I would say Liereyy is unforgiving of the opponent.
Q. What was it like competing in an actual castle in Germany?
TaToH: I like it. We had the same experience last year, but the stage was something else, with many people. You’re a bit shaky at the start because you can get nervous in front of people. But then you become focused and don’t even realize they are there.
The shaky nerves were only at the start. It takes a little time to get into the zone, but it’s like no pressure when you get there.
Q. There were several routes for players to find their way into this tournament. What was yours like?
TaToH: It was super hard from the start. Everyone is tough to beat and very well prepared at this level, as this is the biggest tournament in Age of Empires. So the motivation was high for everyone, and the expectations were high too. Each player was equally competitive.
The road has been super hard. Even though it might come across otherwise, many games were evenly matched. In the quarter-finals, I was down 2-0 against Marco "JorDan_AoE" Bloch and then came back 2-3, so I could have been out in the quarter-finals.
Q. Do you have a favorite moment from the tournament that stands out from the rest?
TaToH: I think I have way too many to choose one. My GamerLegion teammates were there to help me. They were right on time when I was playing in the finals so they could celebrate with me. Having a crowd, all of them cheering for me, and of course, lifting the trophy was super special.
Q. What gave you the competitive edge to win? What makes your gameplay unique?
TaToH: For example, Hamzah "Hera" El-Baher had some plans that he regularly uses and mainly stuck to those. I predicted what he would do, which helped me prepare for the semi-finals. Hera was practicing with Ville "Villese" Jämsä. There were a lot of mind games in the finals because Liereyy was my practice partner. Liereyy and I know each other quite well, so it was good preparation trying to surprise him.
Q. Age of Empires can be a pretty challenging game franchise. Any tips or advice for players seeing the tournament who want to try the game out?
TaToH: I think they should try The Art of War in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition, because that will aid knowledge of the gameplay and meta and how it has developed. This will help you grasp the lay of the land. It can be hard to start because the game has been around for 25 years. Many veteran players have been engaging with the title for a long time.
The biggest problem for people starting is not knowing the reason for the loss. They think that the other player is cheating or something else. You must be patient, watch tutorials, and practice extensively against the AI. There might not be immediate gratification, but perseverance pays off.
Many players become agitated and nervous, not knowing how to maximize their game knowledge. Avoiding this predicament is a basic rule that all players should follow.
Q. Were any significant difficulties you experienced in qualifying and climbing through this tournament?
TaToH: The biggest challenge was being 2-0 down in the quarter-final. I was confident with my game, but I was still losing. So I told myself to calm down. Reminded myself that I was playing well. I stayed composed and never doubted my potential to win.
It might not always work out in your favor, though. Even when I'm 2-2 in games, I feel like, historically, I always lose. I think my record in that regard was 0-16. But that streak has broken now. So the win was memorable.
Q. While AoE 2 may be the most popular game in the franchise, do you think AoE 4 has the chance to become the norm for gameplay in a few years?
TaToH: Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition evokes nostalgia. It has been around for over two decades. Players have fond memories of playing this as a child. That’s something that Age of Empires IV doesn’t have. But with the latest patches, developers are making the game much better. It may even overtake the popularity of Age of Empires II over time.
Q. Do you think tournaments like this could help elevate the popularity of Age of Empires and see other tournaments or competitive scenes emerge?
TaToH: I'm pretty sure this helps a lot. For example, one or two friends usually watch me play. But for this competition, they were all watching me. Then everyone spread the word and drew insane viewership. This tournament was the most professional production we’ve had so far, and this boosted the community.